Selectors pick Warner as Johnson reignites ball-tampering saga

Australia’s selectors have stuck with David Warner for the opening Test of the summer despite his meagre output with the bat and a scathing attack delivered by Mitchell Johnson, which reignited the ball-tampering saga.

Warner features in a 14-man squad announced by Cricket Australia on Sunday morning, as Pat Cummins’ men prepare to face Pakistan in Perth from December 14.

Uncapped Western Australian fast bowler Lance Morris, nicknamed “The Wild Thing”, has also been named in the squad.

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Warner’s selection came hours after former Test quick Johnson blasted his ex-teammate in a column published in The West Australian.

“Does this really warrant a swansong, a last hurrah against Pakistan that was forecast a year in advance as if he was bigger than the game and the Australian cricket team?” wrote Johnson, who believes Warner should have taken the decision out of the hands of selectors.

“It’s been five years and Warner has still never really owned the ball-tampering scandal.

“Now the way he is going out is underpinned by more of the same arrogance and disrespect to our country.”

Johnson sent down more chin music as he drew attention to Warner’s plan for a farewell Test in Sydney.

“What will fans bring for Warner? Bunnings would sell out of sandpaper,” Johnson wrote.

“Ultimately, an international cricket career is not just about your statistical achievements with bat or ball. How you held yourself and how you played the game will live long after you depart.

“Australia coach Andrew McDonald said recently they will be picking this summer’s Test squad based on current performances. It would be nice to know how long this strategy has been in place because it doesn’t seem to have applied to Warner for quite a while.”

Warner struggled in the UK this year despite Australia’s retainment of the Ashes, mustering only 285 runs at an average of 28.50 across the five Tests. The left-hander made scores of nine, 36, 66, 25, four, one, 32, 28, 24 and 60.

His contribution was far outweighed by that of fellow opener Usman Khawaja, who amassed 496 runs at 49.60.

Warner has a Test career average of 44.43 but has only averaged 31.79 since the beginning of 2020, a period in which an unbeaten 111 in Sydney and a Boxing Day Test double century have been swamped by a string of failures.

However, Warner’s Test career strike-rate is considerably higher than those of the candidates queuing up to replace him. While the 37-year-old’s strike-rate is 70.37, Cameron Bancroft’s is 42.80, Matthew Renshaw’s is 42.32 and Marcus Harris’ is 45.91. Warner’s aggressive style mixes well with the far steadier tempo of Khawaja, whose strike-rate is 48.99.

“This group, led by Pat Cummins, has built a strong resume over an extended period,” said chairman of selectors George Bailey.

“We believe they have earnt the opportunity to start in our first home Test match at the beginning of the new World Test Championship cycle.

“Thirteen members of the squad were part of the victorious World Test Championship and successful Ashes tours over the winter and Lance Morris has been recalled after recovering from his back injury over the same period.

“As ever, there will be opportunities in the short to medium term to break into this squad and we look forward to seeing the continued strong performances from players who have been performing domestically, many of whom will get a tremendous opportunity in the PM’s XI fixture against Pakistan later this week.”

Australia will meet Pakistan in a three-Test series hosted by Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, before taking on the West Indies in Adelaide and Brisbane.

Australian squad for first Test of summer

Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Lance Morris, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner

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